Transcript For Does Making Frequent Content Changes To My Website Hurt My SEO? – 109;
Caleb Baumgartner: Welcome to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I am producer Caleb Baumgartner here once again to bring you this Q&A episode featuring Jesse and Sue. In this episode, we answer a listener question about how website changes affect SEO. Do frequent changes damage your ranking? Sue and Jesse explained the importance of making changes with intent and where certain changes can have a greater impact on your overall SEO. Thank you for listening and enjoy the show.
Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan, here with Sue Ginsburg ready to answer your questions.
Sue Ginsburg: Yeah.
Jesse Dolan: Sue, just you and I here again today without Bob, so another dynamic duo episode here. Hopefully, we can give some good answers to some people out there. What do you got for us today?
Sue Ginsburg: Okay. Today, question from a listener in Dunedin, Florida, give us giving us the opportunity for this gorgeous water-filled background here.
Jesse Dolan: Looks inviting.
Sue Ginsburg: Thank you, Catherine. And her question is, “If I am regularly making changes and updates to my website, does that hurt my SEO?” Really, really great question. I think we’ll have a good discussion on that today.
The quote of the day today, “Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.” And that’s a quote from marketing genius Seth Godin, really, really like that. We all, I think procrastinate change on some level often enough; and if we could remember that, maybe that would help us move the time we change up a little and get it going a little bit sooner.
So, story I want to share today is several years ago, I was working with a client who launched a new website, had a good launch strategy, announcing the new website, putting that announcement everywhere, got a lot of attention. It worked. Website traffic increased. They were engaging with clients new and old a lot more than usual.
Towards the middle of this launch strategy playing out, I brought up that we needed to start SEO, and they froze. They didn’t want to change a thing because they were getting good engagement. They liked the attention they were getting, and they said, “No, we want to just keep going on the coattails of what’s happening now.” They were concerned that changing anything at that time would hurt their SEO.
And interestingly SEO is counterintuitive that way, because I think we all think, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” But in this case with SEO, I think this is what you’re going to be talking about, Jesse, is that you do need to make changes. The key is if you’re making strategic SEO changes, additions, revisions, et cetera, that’s where it’s going to be positive, not just random changes that may or may not help or hurt you. Anyway, this is the same question that our listener asked. I’m sure it’s in the mind of many people, and we’d love to hear what you have to say about that today, Jesse.
So, today we’ll learn about whether frequent changes, random and or strategic, will hurt or help the SEO that you’ve done on your website. Again, I think that the intuitive thinking is don’t change. Don’t make changes. And I suspect that your answer is going to be a little something else, Jesse. So, let’s find out from you, the SEO expert, and we’ll all be a little smarter and maybe more intentional about the changes that we do make or want to make on our website.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. Well, first I like how you think all my information is actually helpful and makes people smarter.
Sue Ginsburg: Yes.
Jesse Dolan: Might not always be the case, but we’ll try. And I think, unfortunately, my first initial answer, which is somewhat tongue in cheek here… Question, if I am regularly making content changes to my website, is it going to hurt my SEO? It’s the old, it depends, which is like this cliche half joke, half serious answer in the SEO industry that virtually applies to everything. And for this question, it really does.
So, on one hand, can changing your content frequently hurt your SEO? Absolutely, it can hurt your SEO. If you have “good SEO” and you screw it up? Yeah. That’s going to hurt, right? So, like you’re saying Sue. You don’t want to just willy nilly make changes. When it comes to making changes within the context of SEO, we always say, “Do it on purpose. Be intentful.”
Whether that means if you load an image onto your website, don’t just settle for the default file name 1234.jpeg. Do it on purpose. Name that image, something relevant. Give it a name with a keyword in it. Right? So in the same way… So, that’s doing something on the front side with intent and purpose towards SEO. In the same way, if you’re changing something on your website, you have to be making those changes through the lens of SEO.
Am I changing the main H1 title on my landing page? If the answer’s, yes, if that’s the kind of change you’re making regularly, okay. Did that H1 have valuable keywords in it, and are you removing them? If that’s the case, yes. That’s going to hurt your SEO. Now, if it’s the other way around, if your website wasn’t… I’m sorry. If your web page wasn’t ranking and you’re making constant changes, if you add some keywords that you’re trying to get ranked for into that main H1 heading on that landing page, then it could help your SEO. Right?
So, it kind of depends on where you’re at in context for this page. Is this page a highly ranking, “good SEO page?” If the answer on that is yes, then I would definitely be hesitant or careful on what it is I’m changing.
Sue Ginsburg: I would.
Jesse Dolan: So, let me parse that out quick. Let’s just make the assumption this is a ranked page with good SEO value that I’m making frequent changes on. What I would want to do… And I say making frequent changes. I’m making the assumption that you need to make frequent changes to it. Maybe it’s content that has to get switched out. Maybe it’s some kind of events, and you’re showing new photos, whatever it is. I would establish, what are the primary ranking factors on this page from an SEO perspective, and not mess with those.
So, some of the traditional spots which are pretty basic, your headlines, your H1s, your H2s, your H3s, what do those say? If they’re relevant to SEO, don’t mess with those. Bullet point text, bold texts, italicized text that have your keywords that you’re ranking for, don’t change those. Images, the alt text on the image, the file name of the actual image, again, don’t mess with those.
What I would do is try to have a page that has some standard template nature to it that takes care of most of your basic SEO needs; and then if you have content on that particular page that needs to be changing on a regular basis, have that be in a section that doesn’t take anything away from your SEO, right? Hopefully that makes sense when I’m saying that to everybody. Sometimes the words that come out don’t match with what I’m trying to convey.
Now, if you’re just making changes, not because you have to because of the nature of that page or something else, if you’re just making changes trying to mess with it, trying to improve your SEO, then I would say there you’re not in any danger of hurting your SEO because you’re still trying to rank and still trying to climb. The caveat I would give you there is make sure enough time is passing for your changes to make an impact.
If you go in there today on a page, that’s not ranking, you make a bunch of changes and you go in there tomorrow and it hasn’t ranked yet, and the next day, and the next day, if you keep doing that over and over the problem you’re going to be running into is you’re not giving those changes enough time to make an impact in your rankings. Meaning, I make a change on my webpage today. There’s no guarantee that Google sees that change.
The crawl budget you have of Google, the crawl frequency you have… Number one, you can check these things either going through Google search console or under your server logs to see when Google’s checking your content. Okay. Let’s just set that aside as an ability. It could be daily. It could be maybe once a week that Google’s actually visiting this page to see if anything was changed.
Now, from there, that’s when Google’s visiting the page. Now, Google has to see the change, digest the change; and it kind of has to, for lack of a better way, work through the Google system to have that be updated and indexed, your changes be indexed and accepted. So, if I’m making changes frequently to a page that I’m trying to get ranked better and I’m getting frustrated because it’s not ranking, not moving a big danger is, am I making changes too quickly. Google isn’t absorbing those changes. They’re not recognizing those changes. They’re not putting those changes into the indexed results, and I’m never giving myself a chance to see if my changes even worked.
Another version of that is, I made changes this week. My page hasn’t really ranked very good by next week. I make some changes again. Well, maybe Google wasn’t even aware that you made those other changes. Now, Google’s getting confused because you keep giving it new information every time and it’s never really established the intent of your page and what this page is about. So, for those scenarios, what I would recommend is keeping a log of the changes that you’re making. Again, this is if you have a page that’s not ranked that you’re trying to get ranked and you’re making frequent changes.
The first version was I had a page that was ranked, and I have to make some changes on this page by the nature of the page itself, right? So, for this one, if you got a page that’s not ranking, you’re trying to get ranked, keep a log of what changes you’re making. Keep a date stamp on when you made those changes, and I wouldn’t make changes more than once a week on the very earliest.
Now, the other scenario is if maybe you have just different chefs in the kitchen and I’m making some changes on a page, maybe Susan, they’re making some changes on a page; and it’s just kind of a free for all. That, for sure, would be a scenario I would stop. A piece of content… When we’re doing SEO, we’re trying to rank an individual page. We’re putting some craft into it. We’re taking some time, some energy, and we’re doing this stuff with intent and with purpose.
Again, we’re using the keywords in the right places. We’re developing paragraphs of text. We’re really putting some energy into this. You have to then be patient, let that be accepted by Google, see if it ranks, and let it set for a little bit to marinate. If you’ve got somebody else jumping in there unbeknownst to you making some changes, I mean, how do you know what’s working and what’s not working at that point. So, that would be something.
If it’s a page you’re trying to rank, have control of that page, lock it down, don’t screw with it, and see if it works. I can’t really think of any other scenarios where you’d be making a lot of changes on a regular basis. Again, I feel like there would be a page where that’s just the purpose of that page. It’s got, maybe events are being updated or other content that’s changing. That’s why you’re changing that page regularly, or you’re changing this page regularly for the purpose of ranking it. I think that handles those two scenarios.
If there’s another one, maybe if somebody else can chime in for another question, maybe what another scenario would be, why you’d be making so many changes to this page and if it can impact you or not. Or if the actual person who asked that can elaborate, we can come back with part two. But I think, Sue, that would be my two-part, one, and then two A, two B answer there for those different scenarios.
Just to loop back and give it a summary again. Yes, making frequent content changes can hurt your SEO if you’re not doing them strategically and with a plan. And then it depends, is also, it may not hurt your SEO as long as you’re aware of how you’re making the changes, how you’re making them strategically, and are you modifying like key SEO areas on that page?
If you’re listening to this and you’re feeling like you’re in that same scenario of either trying to change pages a lot but you’re never getting ranked and you’re kind of stuck, or if you have pages that you’re like, “No way this is going to rank because I just have to always change the content.” If you feel like you’re in one of those boats and you’re lost, reach out to us. Let us know. We can just look at your page, maybe help you talk through some of this.
We’re obviously here for hire for any of these solutions, whether it be on a consultation basis or to just do the work for you. We’re here for that and anything in between, but don’t just meander in the middle and just keep making changes and hoping something happens. For me, that’d be a dangerous thing. You want to establish what this page is about for the intent. You want to establish what you’re trying to get this page ranked for, make your changes, see if it works.
If you… How should I rephrase this in my head? If you find yourself having to make a lot of changes to a page, what I would question is, are you making these changes and changing the focus of the page, right? If you’re trying to make this page rank for red balloons, you’re not getting traction, if you’re in a scenario maybe where, “We’re going to do yellow balloons then.” Well, I wouldn’t do that.
I would keep that page as red balloons. I would make another page for yellow balloons then and trying to rank that right, instead of changing the recipe in the focus of that page, because now you’re really going to be screwing with what Google’s trying to absorb and recognize here.
Sue Ginsburg: Just a question about the timing. That’s great that you said do not make changes more than once a week. Are you talking about on the website or on a particular page?
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. Good question. All of this is page by page because Google, we rank individual pages, right? We make changes to individual pages. When we do a search in Google, it shows us individual pages. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some things on your website that are domain wide that impact all pages like overall speed or some organizational schema or some other things. The by and large, the things that we’re talking about here is going to be page by page for sure.
Sue Ginsburg: Great. Really, really helpful and great, great context that you put it in. If you are doing SEO and it’s working, it can help you or it can harm you. And if you’re not doing SEO, your changes can help you and harm you as well.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah, it really is one of these, “It depends,” answers. I mean, I hate to use that, but in some scenarios like this, there’s just a lot of… I know this was just a quick question that was presented, but this is something that would be much more of an in-depth scenario like, “Okay, what’s the purpose of the page? What’s the usage case here?” You could get a more detailed answer based off that.
Sue Ginsburg: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, I’m going to guess that a lot of people it’s new to them that SEO and ranking is page by page. It’s not the website. It’s each individual page. So, that’s good learning there, too.
Jesse Dolan: Good.
Sue Ginsburg: Okay. If you remember one thing and one thing only, remember this. The right change is the strategic, intentional, SEO-focused changes will help SEO. And now I’m going to add if you do it at the right time or if you don’t do it too frequently. The more SEO strategic your changes are, the better it will help you. Do not make random changes because that will not help you.
Again, applying the quote of the day, “Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.” Yeah. Put some thought in before you make any kind of changes to your website; and if there’s something that we can do as a sounding board or need some good, expert input, we’re here today.
Jesse Dolan: And I want to add on one thing, Sue. Your quote there, when we read it, I have a tinge of, does it contradict what we were saying, because we’re like, “Wait a week.” I want to add on, I hope nobody’s taking away from this that we’re saying don’t make these changes and don’t make frequent changes. That’s not it at all. Definitely test everything, make changes, definitely pivot.
The key is understanding where on the page you’re making them. There’s the one thing, making a change, frequency, as part of the question; but then also, is it impacting my SEO. For that, you have to understand which things are changing on the page, which elements are you changing, right? You’re not taking the page down and putting up a brand new page. So, I think that’s that balance of don’t be afraid to make changes. Don’t be afraid to make quick changes, like you’re saying. But the more valuable the things you’re changing for SEO, that’s where I would slow down.
I wouldn’t change my H1 heading or things like that every day. Yeah, just kind of a little bit of a grain of a grain of salt there with the recommendations, and it’s just to temper at all. I don’t want to scare anybody away from making changes. Like I said, this is more of an answer/question about the strategic nature of how you do it, not if you should or not. Right? There’s a lot of nuance there.
Sue Ginsburg: And interestingly, with my marketing filter, how I interpreted this, it almost always fails because it’s too late. Change almost never fails because it’s too early. I think of be intentional. Don’t do this randomly.
Jesse Dolan: For sure. For sure.
Sue Ginsburg: It needs to have some thought and intention behind it.
Jesse Dolan: Right on.
Sue Ginsburg: Great.
Jesse Dolan: No, good question. Like we say, hopefully that helps some other people out there that had something similar going on or questions in the back of their mind. If you’ve got a question out there listening to this that you’d like to ask, we’d like to answer it. Go on out to localseotactics.com, scroll down to the bottom, click the button for submit a question. You can send it on over by filling out the form, or you can call in and leave us a voicemail at the phone number that’s on there.
If you do that, and we would love to have that, we’re going to send you off a free Intrycks t-shirt to your address when we use it on the show; and you’ll be famous, right? People will hear your voice and fortune follows the fame. All right. Well, everybody, hopefully that helps you out. Again, we’d love to hear your question to answer on a future episode. Reach on out to us. Hopefully this question resonates and help some people out, and thanks for checking it out. We’ll catch you on the next one. Take care.
Sue Ginsburg: Bye-bye.